What is your favorite jewel or gem? Is it rubies, sapphires, diamonds or emeralds–or all of the above? What is your favorite precious metal; gold or silver? And why are these your favorite? Read Matthew 13:44, The Parable of the Hidden Treasure. Yup. It’s only one verse, but Jesus packs A LOT into this little parable.
When you read this parable, what are some things that stand out for you? Is there something in particular that doesn’t seem right? Does it seem like the man in the parable is acting dishonestly because he discovered the treasure only to cover it up again, then buy the field so that he can have the treasure for himself? If so, then why would Jesus want to teach about how to be dishonest?
I love Jesus’ parables. He used them as teaching tools using everyday examples–everyday examples from 2,000 years ago. Knowing the context of the parables is important to interpreting them and then applying them to our own lives and time. This is called a ‘Kingdom Parable’. When Jesus begins a parable with “the kingdom of God/heaven is like” then Jesus wants the hearer or reader to learn what God is like in His actions toward and relationships with His people. Jesus uses these Kingdom parables to show people how He is God in the flesh, and that God has come to live among them–He is the Messiah; their Savior and ours too! So, He’s not going to teach about how to be dishonest.
So how do we interpret this parable? Well, each person or thing in the parable usually relates to someone or something in real life. You want to look at what’s happening in the parable. In this parable we have a man who discovers treasure in a field. He covers it up, then he goes out to buy the entire field so that he can have the treasure for himself.
Most sermons and Bible studies will interpret this where we are the ‘man’, Jesus is ‘the treasure’, and as Christians we should want to go out and find Jesus as our treasure. True enough, we want Jesus. However, this might not be the best interpretation for this parable because then we have to do something in order to get Jesus. And that means that we are doing something in order to please God. Jesus wouldn’t teach this kind of thing since Jesus is the One who does it all for us.
So how can we interpret the parable? Well, Jesus gives us the ‘code’ in Matthew 13:36-43 to decode the parable. When Jesus begins a parable with “the kingdom of heaven is like,” or “the kingdom of God is like,” then the parable is going to teach something us something about Jesus.
Decoding the Parable
a man = Jesus
the field = the world
the treasure = believe it or not, us!
buying the field = Jesus purchasing the whole world through His death on the cross
The other thing is that ‘the man’ was not being dishonest in this parable. There was a law back then that if someone discovered something on a piece of property like a treasure, and he dug it out, then he would have to report that to the owner of the property. The treasure would belong to the owner. However, and here’s the key to this parable, if a man discovered a treasure on the property, but did NOT dig it up then he was NOT required to report the treasure before buying the property.
Now, hopefully, this parable makes sense. The field is the world. Jesus saw that there was treasure in the world, namely people who loved God and wanted to follow Him. To obtain the treasure, Jesus needed to buy the whole field–or the world. To do that, He needed to sell all that He had, which means that He had to give up His life on the cross. That’s how He purchased the world. And in doing so, He also purchased the treasure–you and me and all who are baptized and believe.
So, how does this interpretation help you in your walk with Jesus? What’s it like that you are the treasure? Have you ever thought of yourself and your life as something so precious, rare and valuable? Yup. You are one of those precious jewels. You are more precious than gold, silver, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds. There’s only one of you, and God created you for Himself. You are so special to God that He sent Jesus into the world in order to buy you back from the world, Satan, and worldly ways. He claimed you in your baptism. And God takes us with all our sin, scars from life, warts and all. There’s nothing we do since Jesus did it all for us.
No matter what you’re going through today–good or bad–remember that YOU ARE PRECIOUS TO GOD! YOU ARE A PART OF HIS PRICELESS TREASURE!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, many times I don’t behave and act like I should. Sometimes I have a hard time accepting that I’m precious. Forgive me, Lord. Thank you for washing off all the dirt of my sin and mistakes. I am precious in Your sight only because of Jesus. Help me to live the life you want me to live so that I can shine as Your treasure to others so that they too might know Your love for them. In Jesus Name. Amen.
I love you guys! Dad